Time to come out of hibernation...

Sylvia Penton has been hibernating for years, it's no wonder she's a little prickly...

Sylvia lives alone, dedicating herself to her job at the local university. On weekends, she helps out at a local hedgehog sanctuary because it gives her something to talk about on Mondays - and it makes people think she's nicer than she is.

Only Sylvia has a secret: she's been in love with her boss, Professor Lomax, for over a decade now, and she's sure he's just waiting for the right time to leave his wife. Meanwhile she stores every crumb of his affection and covertly makes trouble for anyone she feels gets in his way.

But when a bright new PhD candidate catches the Professor’s eye, Sylvia’s dreams of the fairy tale ending she has craved for so long, are soon in tatters, driving her to increasingly desperate measures and an uncertain future.

Sylvia might have been sleep walking through her life but things are about to change now she’s woken up…

Our Review

Needlemouse by Jane O’Connor is about a prickly 52-year-old woman named Sylvia Penton. She is admin support for a professor at a university, but she has been harbouring a secret crush on him for years.

Little does Sylvia realise that ‘her prof’ is interested in someone else. On discovery of this knowledge Sylvia becomes increasingly desperate.

I don’t think anyone would disagree with my statement that Sylvia is not a likeable character. She is mean, insensitive and self-serving. However, the more we learn about her the easier it is to understand the reasons behind her behaviour and whilst it is still not acceptable it is understandable.

It is obvious to the reader that ‘her prof’ is clearly not interested in her.

Sylvia is quite a lonely character. She has nobody she is close to at work because she is too busy trying to prevent people from disturbing the professor. Sylvia has a sister called Millie who she is as close to as she can be to anyone, but she really does not get on with her brother-in-law or her niece Crystal.

“It’s not Crystal’s fault that I don’t like her. I have tried over the years not to let the past effect my relationship with her the last thing I want is Millie picking up on it, but I know she knows there is a problem there I can’t quite hide my lack of genuine enthusiasm about Crystal’s many and varied achievements over the years. Her first steps, first words, writing her name, passing her ballet exams – the list goes on – and with each occasion the news has been delivered to me like a special present that I am invited to share in the joy of opening. And no matter how hard I have tried, and still try, to look pleased and say the right things, there’s a note of discord in my voice and in my reactions that chills and often kills the mood."

Sylvia volunteers at a hedgehog sanctuary because she thinks it makes her seem like a nicer person than she is. The parts of the book talking about hedgehogs and facts surrounding them were fascinating for me because I knew relatively little about them prior to this.

Needlemouse begins with the prof taking her out for lunch for her birthday and this is when we see how truly pitiable her situation is.

“It occurred to me, as we were having coffee, that he hadn’t even asked me one question during the meal or even said ‘happy birthday’ and I felt a surge of annoyance that I immediately squashed down, reminding myself that he was in the midst of an intensely difficult time. Having repositioned myself emotionally towards his well-being, rather than mine, I was able to watch him drink his coffee with renewed affection."

Needlemouse is a lovely little book and very easy to read.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 4/5

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